Virden Collegiate to Stage Beauty and the Beast

A beautiful, innocent village girl is imprisoned by a grotesque, bad-tempered beast – not your typical love story, but it is the premise for the iconic Beauty and the Beast, being staged by Virden Collegiate May 1 – 2 and May 4 – 5 in the historic Auditorium Theatre in Virden.


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Directed and produced by the incomparable Michelle Chyzyk, Beauty and the Beast promises to be another feast for the eyes and ears.  Students have been readying themselves since the fall, learning the music, studying dialogue, watching videos of the characters’ movements, and all this just in preparation for the auditions! These are talented and committed performers who will surprise and delight you with their considerable talents.  Audiences will be humming the many familiar tunes for days!


The students in Beauty and the Beast are busy, busy young people.  Many of them are juggling jobs, sports and their academic responsibilities along with learning the challenging music and intricate dance numbers of this beloved musical.  One of these students is Kennedy Charles, who plays the role of Belle.  This triple threat beauty is no stranger to the stage, having been a performer since she was a youngster.  She was seen last year as Marie Antoinette in VCI’s production of The Addams Family, but Kennedy is also an elite athlete, having competed with Team Manitoba in speed skating at the Canada Winter Games.  Says Kennedy, “Some of the challenges of being in this production are balancing school and speed skating, as well as the rehearsals for the production, but Beauty and the Beast has been my favourite Disney movie ever since I was a little girl, and I’m very excited to play the role of Belle.”


Julian Berg, a young man with a huge voice and great stage presence, takes on the role of the Beast.  Julian has been working hard to prepare himself for the challenges of this role, not the least of which is the costume!  Julian says that in order to prepare himself for his character, he would sit in his car in -25° C weather memorizing his lines! He was last seen as Lurch in the VCI production of The Addams Family.


Graduating student, Emily Cochrane, The Addams Family’s sultry Morticia Addams, takes on a completely different persona this year, portraying the kindly teapot, Mrs. Potts. When asked about the audience’s reactions to the show, Emily said, “I hope the audience feels swept away.  There is something extraordinarily magical about a Disney production that can make any audience member feel like a kid again!”


Sharing the role with Emily is the beautiful Ruth Thiessen, another talented actress who cannot be typecast.  Last year, Ruth could be seen in The Addams Family as the over-the-top Granny.  Ruth truly enjoys acting alongside her friends.   She says, “I love watching each cast member’s individual character growth as the show comes closer.  I love playing such a kind-hearted teapot – a stark contrast to Grandma Addams!”


Joining Emily and Ruth as Mrs. Pott’s plucky son Chip, the teacup, is Grade 5 student, Tristan Plaisier.


Stay tuned!  Next week, you’ll meet more colourful characters learn what thoughts the cast members have about performing in such a well-known production.


Performances of Beauty and the Beast are May 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m., and May 4 and 5 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available at and at Flower Attic and Gifts in Virden.

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